Oh dear, another dusty month here on The Sensible Bond. The tumbleweeds gather in the corners and visitors turn away dejected. I plead once more my currently hyper-occupied existence, not to mention myriad professional duties. Are you interested? Probably not. 9 out of 10 blog readers are consumers, not fellow travellers. I write now for my fellow travellers, which is why these days I cannot write much.
Not that there is not a great deal to comment on. There is no shortage of raw material for the commentariat factories. From World Youth Days to scandalous Vatican appointments, from bully-boy administration to demented episcopal behaviour, from the cold grave of traditionalist reconciliation to the slow-motion rumblings of promised curial reform: its all out there, feeding the fires of indignation or fuelling the grinding gears of controversy. The victory of politique over mystique.
One of the problems which has been dawning on me recently is that the Catholic blogging world has not really caught up with reflection on the nature of the information revolution. In many ways we still think about blogging like a form of journalism and commentary. The events happen and we respond to them. The advantages when compared to the old journalistic routes are spectacular. It used to take a book or an idea months if not years to travel around the world. Now that can happen in a matter of minutes and hours. So isn't this just the same as we have always done but now at another, quicker speed?
I don't think so. Speed is of course of the essence but, as cultural commentator Paul Virilio has observed, what we fail to realise in our time is that speed is war by other means. The Catholic blogosphere is not just a platform for commentary or another advanced medium. Older generations do not yet realise what the youngsters simply take for granted: that there is no stable distinction between virtual reality and ... what can we call it: real reality? Existential reality? It's all reality. Normally, we act ecclesially when we inhabit a time and space with other members of the Church, but in the information age our ecclesial being (from the point of view of the virtues, not the sacraments obviously) is as much online as it is in the tangible world.
The drama here, therefore, is what happens to the Church when we unthinkingly act out our Catholicism, with all the limitations and unconscious transformations that virtual reality leads us to? In all our blogging, we are not just commentating on the Church, we are being the Church, or being a part of the Church (not 'being Church', that would just make me puke). That's right. All that sabre rattling, all that name-calling and back-biting, all those precipitous judgments passed at the speed of a click: it does not rain on the Church from the outside. It's more like gunfire ricocheting around the Church from the inside.
I have become convinced that if we are not careful, if we are not filled with the spirit of God, we are likely to become unwitting terrorists within the Church, Satan's useful idiots in a war on his most hated enemy: the inexorable charity of God.
So, what am I saying about all the causes that are being fought for? Should we be silent in the face of injustice? Should we just say nothing? I'm sure my critics would be only to grateful if I shut up and went no further.
But I think what I'm trying to say is that the Catholic blogosphere feels to me these days like an accelerated forum. A forum: a place for political debate and conflict. Only that is not what the Church is (and by blogging, as I have argued, we are not just commentating on the Church, we are enacting the life of the Church as its members). No, before being a forum, the Church is a foyer: a homestead, a hearth, for crying out loud (even if it's a hearth for crying out loud at times!).
We all think we are so necessary. It is the sin of those Pelagians that Pope Francis keeps thinking about. This is not a counsel of quietism by any means. But it is a counsel that is aimed at recalling to myself first, and then to anyone who takes my point, that the Incarnation places two paradoxical truths before us both of which we must rise to:
that first, God has no need of us and we are not in the least bit necessary,
and second, that without us God cannot achieve what He has determined can only come about through our action.
And on that note, I must away and attend to my duties. TTFN.